Congratulations due to district

Sweet Home High School’s 13.5-percent bump in its graduation rate, from 70.83 percent in 2017-18 to 84.52 this past year, reported on page 1 of this issue, is a big deal that our community should take note of.

Checking back over the past two decades, we’re reminded that the rate has never moved more than a few points, sometimes up, sometimes down. Our community has run graduation rates as low as the 60s percentage range at times.

When the graduation rate grows even a couple of points, it’s a good day.

Each of those percentage points last year represented 1.68 students. Of the 2015-16 freshmen class, 142 students graduated last year; only 26 did not.

If the graduation rate had not improved as it did from the previous year, 49 of those young people would have failed to graduate.

Credit goes where it’s due: the Sweet Home School District has done an impressive job, nearly cutting in half the number of kids who don’t make it – in a single year.

Around the state, all 16 of the districts that exceeded Sweet Home’s improvement were 3A-sized or smaller. The largest cohort was 48, with 46 graduates. The smallest was a cohort of one, with one graduate. As our story explains, the smaller the student body, the less those percentage rate changes mean because it takes less students to move the needle.

That’s not the case here in Sweet Home, where we have a significantly larger sample size. Thirteen and a half percent is a big number. This is a major accomplishment.

The School District staff and especially the high school staff should be congratulated for all of the work they’ve put into this. It’s paying off.

School officials rightly credit staff across the board, teachers who are finding time to stay late to run a homework club or to meet with staff dedicated to helping kids finish high school; the classified folks who keep the lights on or work one-on-one with the most challenging students; and the administrators who work with the staff, set the direction and allow those staff members to do what they do best.

While the spotlight is on the graduation rate and specifically focused on the increased number of graduates last year and, we hope, this year, we also recognize the work of the teachers, classified and administrators in the lower grades helping to prepare these kids. Some of their work is already visible in the number of freshmen on track to graduate, which also is growing.

We should also credit our elected School Board members for working with Supt. Tom Yahraes as he and his staff developed the district’s Strategic Plan. They wisely decided to borrow from West Albany, a district that has figured out solutions and boasts a 98-percent graduation rate. Why re-invent the wheel? We appreciate that our district officials know success when they see it and aren’t too proud to copy what works.

We all are the beneficiaries.

Several staff members are directly tied to the work, and Supt. Tom Yahraes named them specifically. They include Kristin Adams, Jim Kistner, Chris Hiaasen, Eric Stutzer, Leah Norris and Heather Shipp.

We congratulate the staff and students of the Sweet Home School District. We have seen personally the work and dedication that so many provide at each and every level.

Their work has paid off most impressively. They should be proud.

We are.